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Strawberries & Independence: Learning to Thrive in the Middle of Nowhere

By: Anya Gupta, Cáite Doyle, Ananya Bhatt, Arjavi Thakkar, Adhishri Dingorkar, Jasmine Patel, & Rudri Patel

A week ago we took a spectacular trip we would never forget. We were given the opportunity to work at a farm, stay together on a ranch, and spend time with one another. From planning our meals to carrying huge logs of wood, this trip had it all. Not only did we learn a lot about farms and work in general, but we also learned a lot about each other and ourselves.

When we got to the ranch, we all thought it was beautiful. You could see a lake on one side and horses and cows roaming around on the other. There was a dock and many trees out in the background.

Inside, the house was cozy but small. There was a living room, a dining table, and a kitchen with a bathroom attached to it. Upstairs, you would enter into a big loft area where there were five beds.

Imagine being one of seven girls in a house like this. You have to make all of your meals for 8 people in a tiny kitchen. Figuring out how to live with seven other people was one of the challenges of the trip. Accommodating everyone and executing several meals required much preparation and planning.

It could also get fairly chaotic. We went to the farm every day, came back covered in mud, and went to the pool twice! So, you can imagine how it was to have only one bathroom for this entire trip!

A huge part of our experience at the farm was tribe building; getting to know one another better, simply hanging out, and taking care of ourselves.

The pool, or should I say the “OOL” (notice there is no P in it) as it was called, was beautiful. Having a pool at the house was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. We were all relaxed and had a great time.

We enjoyed long nights together which consisted of staying up watching movies, eating huge amounts of dessert, and hanging out. A few warriors staged a model walk and one of them even dressed up as a boy. Along with blasting our own music and talking for hours, this trip was great.

There were also many cows, horses, and dogs wandering around at the ranch house. We took long strolls through the meadows and enjoyed the scenery from the wooden deck over the lake. One day, we spent a long time with four friendly horses and fed them plenty of carrots.

On the first night, while sitting on a rock wall, we saw something we would never forget. The navy blue hue of the lake, the glowing fountain, and the elegant full moon reflection left us awestruck. While silently observing, a wave of calmness washed over us. We sat quietly and enjoyed this breathtaking scenery for a while. Suddenly, we saw the two magnificent racehorses gracefully galloping towards the lake. This looked exactly like a painting and we all enjoyed our first night there.

Now for the hard, physical labor; the not-so-relaxing part.

We worked at the farm for three days enduring 4 hours of hard work daily. We started off picking strawberries at the farm on Tuesday. After spending the first few hours of the day filling baskets, the majority of us helped prepare them for selling and freezing. This included pitting (removing the cores using a special tool) over 3000 strawberries and ended with many of us being sprayed with strawberry juice.

On the other hand, when faced with the challenge of one sixteen-year-old blind sheepdog needing to be brushed, three warriors rose to the occasion. They began grooming the dog, Lefty, and started to cut out his matted fur. It took a while so they got as comfortable as they could get while crouching in hay and muddy grass (with traces of poop).

There were 2 rams at the farm near these girls’ work area. After a while, the rams got curious and took a liking to one of the girls. After a while, the warrior had a brilliant idea. “Brilliant.” meaning extremely questionable and not likely to end well. She was going to pet the ram (the towering, shaggy animal that had the potential to bite off her fingers...)

The warrior slowly lifted her hand near the ram’s neck. He followed it with his eyes. The ram started to back away when—

“Don’t mess with the rams!” Farmer Paul shouted from his tractor just before she got to pet her new friend.

Other than the two rams, there were also three donkeys, which we ironically named. They too decided to group up with the rams, and surround these girls while they tried to work. In addition, an extremely clueless rooster kept crowing every five seconds. These animals went by the famous trio moniker: The Clueless Rooster, the Staring Rams, and the Circling Donkeys.

The entire third day on the farm consisted of cutting and moving wood. The part where we got to cut wood with a chainsaw was awesome, but soon, we got to the part of moving all the wood. We rode around in the back of a trailer with large branches and wood. Soon, we got to the area where we were dropping off the wood. The branches had gotten extra dirty in the truck since mud had splashed all over the trailer. We got off and realized that the ground where we were supposed to be unloading, was all a deep puddle. If you stepped anywhere near, your whole shoe would completely submerge in water. However, almost everybody quickly went into it, ignoring their soggy shoes and muddy clothes, and we finished the job together.

On the farm, we thinned out peach trees, picked 3000+ strawberries, pitted every single one, used a chainsaw to cut up a tree, moved heavy branches in the wet, muddy swamp, lifted heavy plywood infested with beetles, and got our shoes and socks soaked for hours. We had a very pleasant time doing all that :). We explored many different jobs in a farm and learned various things. Not only did we enjoy trying and learning new things about the farm work, but we also had a great time working with each other.

Through everything we did, we enjoyed ourselves a lot. In addition, we were able to have deep discussions covering vulnerability, shame, and personal strengths/weaknesses. We also participated in an activity where each person wrote qualities about everyone that they appreciated. This gave us a chance to practice gratitude on this trip.

Along with many successes, this trip also contained some failures. With burnt sandwiches, a broken plate, staying up late, and being an hour late to the farm, there were quite a few failures on this trip. Even with all of the planning we did, we ended up having to go to two different stores to find cheese and butter. Making lunch on the second day turned out to be a lot for the four girls cooking. Some of the sandwiches were half burnt, while others were cooked to perfection. Somehow, they even managed to get a hole in one of them! Though all the sandwiches did not look great, they were delicious. All the dinners also tasted amazing.

Through this trip, we all learned the amount of hard work it took to maintain a farm. From weeding and harvesting to grooming and feeding, we realized the many jobs of a farmer. The reason for this trip was for us to be able to get a unique experience, which we all definitely had.

This trip also taught us about each other and helped us strengthen our bonds with our fellow travelers. We were able to dive into challenging topics and discuss our feelings about personal struggles. Through having fun and just being with each other, we grew closer, learned new things about each other, and others’ true personalities. Individually, we learned our own stamina, strengths, and how hard we work, especially when we don’t have to.

We enjoyed every part; even the little things like blasting music and games in the car. Just by being together, we were able to find joy in both highs and lows of the trip.

In conclusion, this trip taught all of us many valuable lessons. It's like they say, “Books can't give you the knowledge that experiences can.”

Here are a few pictures for you to enjoy:

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